till next time you will find us online at aljazeera.com/thestream. >> time to talk piece in syria. the most significant effort yet to find a solution to the conflict is about to begin. this is the world news from al jazeera. also ahead - an anti-government protestor killed in ukraine as police break down barricades. a senior pro-government protest leader shot and wounded as a state of emergency takes effect. in the dark a lawyer who campaigned against government corruption in china goes on
trial in beijing. >> delegates from 40 countries are gathering in switzerland with one aim in mind, to try to end an ongoing war in syria. it's the first time the international community managed to get both syrian government and opposition to sit down together to talk. the meeting, known as geneva two is the biggest diplomatic push to stop the fighting. these are live pictures from switzerland where the meeting is being held. >> in a moment we'll speak to al jazeera's reporter. first, let's go to james bays, our diplomatic editor at the meeting. james, what is going to be on the agenda for today? >> well, this is the
long-awaited geneva ii conference. not taking place in geneva, taking place in the swiss resort. geneva is full because of a conference of watch makers. that is a minor obstacle to get sides to the conference. an international gathering on the first day, not the peace negotiations. there are 40 countries here, a lot of international organizations. you can see some of the live pictures. that is the man that will sit with the syrian government on one side and the syrian opposition on the other side. in the coming few minutes this will start. we'll hear an opening address from ban ki-moon and the swiss". and then we'll hear soon after. we'll carry it live on al jazeera. first, the architects of the
geneva ii plan. it's only got off the ground because of a rare agreement between the u.s. and russia. we'll hear from john kerry, and the russian prime minister sergei lavrov. then the interesting bit. we hear from the two parties in syria. we hear from the syrian side. from the long-standing foreign minister of syria, and then we here from the president of the coalition of the syrian opposition. all of that comes in the next hour. >> some 44 will speak at the opening. how much can be done at this conference about iran though. >> well what i think will happen first is there's all of these international participants saying how much is invested in the process, and this is the only route to piece.
they don't really have a plan b. that's what you hear from the international participants. then all of the roadshow moves to geneva, to the u.n. headquarters in geneva. and that is where - it will be a smaller gathering, the two sides around the table. the syrian opposition and government. that's where they get to all the big questions. the idea of the u.n. and the arab league comes up with the end of this, with the government made up of part of the opposition and part of the regime. that will be difficult because the opposition will not have assad or anyone close to him. the government says, "no, we have to have president assad as the head of state. they'll start with the easier stuff. it's difficult, trying to get local ceasefires, prisoner exchanges, confidence-building measures. they'll start at that level and come up with a bigger solution,
coming up with a transitional government. that is the aim of all this. a new government for syria. a transitional body. >> thank you very much for that. >> that's james bays live in montro. let's go to our correspondent in lebanon's becker valley. >> while the diplomatic talks with some of the world leaders get under way, what is the situation where you are. with the syrian refugees. >> the situation is difficult. we are in an unofficial camp, one of the larger ones, where the people live. conditions are difficult. it's winter, cold. people can't stay warm, and one of the very furious issues is water. there's not enough clean water.
this is the tank that is filled by aid agencies with clean water. it's about 1,000 litres and is supposed to last of the refugees for about 10 days. it's only been two days. they finish the water. they have to use this water from an underground well. as you can see the water is filthy. this is the water they have to boil and use for washing and cleaning and it's filled with germs, this lady is telling me. it's a very difficult life out here, and here you can see a man digging a channel in order to get rid of waste water. look at the waste water here. it has been used for washing, and when the water isn't disposed of, it basically is a health hazard for all the children that are around the camp, walking here all day. it is serious health hazard.
a lot of the children get sick because of the water. very difficult and precarious conditions. >> how, then, do the people at those camps feel about geneva ii. do they have expectations that what is going to happen at this conference will improve the situation for them? >> sadly their expectations are low. they are pessimistic. they think the conference should have come sooner, not three years into the conflict. the conflict they say has changed the lot. the reality on the ground has changed. speaking about transational government is not practical right now. especially, they say, in light of the al qaeda affiliated groups, and controlling territory. they say these groups because they are not part of the talks, will not commit to a ceasefire. the people here are pessimistic.
they want to return to the country when it's safe. for now they want to deal with the day to day living needs and requests and to try to put food on the table and obtain clean water. they are not very concerned about what is happening. in geneva, that's their honest opinion, and they don't expect much from the conference. a refugee described it has a theatrical event, where people sit together and pretend to talk. hopes are low. >> thank you very much for that. >> so where do the main players stand? while the u.s. government reiterated its commitment to a transitional government in syria, without president bashar al-assad. they insist it's an opportunity for dialogue.
syria's government was supported by political allies and hezbollah of of those russia will be at the talks. they are pushing for a coalition government thatives assad the opportunity to run the elections next year. turkey, qatar and saudi arabia in particular says it's seeking victory for the rebels and the removal of president assad. >> let's go back to our diplomatic editor james bays, who is standing by montro for us. it hasn't been an easy road to get both sides here, let alone the syrian national coalition, the opposition to agree to attend the talks, has it? >> no, it's been a long process. it's taken almost eight months. i remember when i was told about geneva ii. i didn't believe it.
i took a few more confirmation from diplomats, we reported the story and it was announced the conference would take place in moscow, and it was announced by the russian firns and u.s. secretary of state. they are the architects of all of this. you can see the pictures of them gathering in the palace hotel. the big grand hotel in this swiss resort. in the next few moments it's ban ki-moon, the u.n. secretary-general. he is presiding and will open the conference in a few moments. then we'll hear from the president of switzerland, who is the host. and then the important part. then we hear from the russian foreign minister sergei lavrov, and from either side. are it looks like it's about to
start. ban ki-moon checking his watch, having a word with the man standing will, lakhdar brahimi. he'll do the negotiations when the full negotiation sessions start. they start in geneva, and the u.n. headquarters in geneva. that stakes place on friday. there is a gap here on thursday after the international gathering. while all the foreign minister represent 40 countries, then depart on their way home. lakhdar brahimi there, joint special representative. it will be his show from then on. he'll have to decide how to conduct negotiations. we are not clear if they'll start in the same room for separate rooms. none of those details at the stage being announced. the final photos being taken by the photographers here before the opening session starts in
montro. the u.n. is the host, but dr lakhdar brahimi is the special representative. i think it's about to start - looks like ban ki-moon is about to speak. >> will you take your seat please, so we can begin. >> the photographer is getting one more snap. always the case when you have the newspapers there. then you have ban ki-moon speaking to the commence. >> i declare open the geneva
conference on syria. his excellency, president of swiss confederation, his excellency mr john kerry, secretary of state of the united states of america, his excellency mr sergei lavrov, minister of the russian federation, distinguished ministers, royal highness, joint special representatives, lakhdar brahimi. excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. it is my honour and pleasure to welcome you to the high-level segment of the geneva conference on syria. i thank you for accepting my invitation. administered by minister sergei lavrov and secretary of state john kerry on 7 may 2013 in
moscow. minister sergei lavrov and secretary kerry have been worked hard together with me and joint special representative lakhdar brahimi and many other partners to bring us to this day. i appreciate in particular the delegations representing the syrian government and the syrian operation here. and i thank you for accepting my invitation. we know that it has been a difficult path to reach this point. we have lost many, many lives. let me know mince words. the challenges before you and all of us are formidable. nevertheless, your presence here raises a hope.
i'm convinced of that. however, the syrian parties with the support, and others here can make a new beginning. >> i thank again all the other states from the region and beyond. that have accepted an invitation to be here. there have been differences among the syrians, so has the region, and the world been divided by this country. this conference is your opportunity to show unity behind the need for a political solution. it is an opportunity to encourage and support the syrian delegations to negotiate in good faith in order to save their country and embark on a new future. the high-level segment of this conference lasts a day, today,
and on friday 24th of january, the two sides, syrian delegations will start talks in geneva. meadiated by joint special representative. this conference is theirs, and it is theirs to save syria. people will start the proceedings. i like to thank most sincerely the government of switzerland for all the arrangement it has made in cooperation with geneva, in the preparations of this conference and for their supporting the organization of today's high-level segment. i'd like to also pay my special appreciation to syria and montro for their client hospitality, and safety and inconveniences we
may cause today. it is now my great honour and privilege to invite the president of the swiss confreed ration, his excellency to make a statement. mr president. you have the floor. >> so that was, of course, ban ki-moon, the united nations chief opening the geneva ii peace commence on syria, saying that the challenges are formidable. that the preps, the notable presence of the syrian government raises hope. diplomatic editor james bays has been listening to the conference. again, ban ki-moon reiterating that this is not just about syria or the region, that the world has, in fact, been divided by the conflict. >> yes, that is true. because if you look at the
record on syria around that most important world decision-making body, the u.n. security council, you see that nearly all the time in the period of the conflict, which has almost come to the three year mark, there has been division. there's only one rare moment. the only positive bit you can see ward to the syria file. it is making progress, although slow progress as they have removed a small part of the chemical weapons in syria, and that operation is under way. this is a conference, the idea of this conference is, as he said, to save syria. we are listening to the words of the president of switzerland. it is the venue for this. it was in geneva in june 2012 that geneva i took place. in many ways it is supposed to
be the basis of what's happening here. geneva 1, when kofi annan was the negotiator for the arab league and the united nations was a moment of agreement between the parties. and they agreed that the way forward was a come up with a transitional body they called it, not even a government, but said that would have full executive powers in syria, and that body should be comprised with members of the syrian opposition and government. key words - it said in that agreement that they had to come up with the transitional body. it's taken a long time since then, 18 months to get the parties around the table for the next stage trying to form the transitional body and rules of syria. i think the key words, the words by mutual concept. that's the difficulty. how are the two sides, when the battle has been brutal and
bitter on the ground. how will they come up with a government that both sides agree with. it's worth questioning whether the syrian government is - believes in geneva i, it signed up for it, but the sir yabs say they don't want a transitional government, but want a government led by bashar al-assad. they think he should take part in elections and believe he will be re-elected. >> the question is whether the syrian regime were asked to sign up to geneva i before they came here. that same pressure has not been put on the syrian government. everyone is so keen to get both sides in the same place over the three years. >> while the swiss president continues to address the conference, we are going to go to our correspondent in lebanon.
we go to a refugee camp, anunofficial refugee camp for syrian refugees in lebanon's bekaa valley. what is happening, what is taking place in switzerland. how does that affect the refugees where you are. how do they feel about it. are they taking note of what's happening there. >> i think your question was about what is happening in geneva. the line is breaking up, i'm not hearing you well. some of the families living in the tents and makeshift shelter, they say the geneva conference comes too little too late. many of them have fled their home towns a long time ago and want to return home. their hopes are little and low in the conference helping them
return home. what they are worried about is trying to meet their daily needs because they live in a difficult environment where they have to provide everything on their own. they have to set up shelters and provide heating. they are not interested or concerned about what is happening in geneva. they say and feel their hopes and expectations were low because it comes too little, too late. to them it looks like a play or something thooet rickal that has been set up by world powers to make the government and the opposition look like they are talking and trying to solve the problems. they don't think that will solve the problem. they are concerned about the mergens of al qaeda afill yited groups inside syria that are
fighting and controlling territories. they say they are the groups not committed in the talks. they are not involved or participating and will not commit to a decision that the conference coles out with or recommendations. or even a cease fire. sadly people here do not have a high expectation of the geneva conference. what they are concerned about the most is trying to meet daily needs of getting clean water, clothing for their children and food on the table because aid agencies are not able to provide enough aid for all of the refugees. there are around 900,000 registered refugees, and some awaiting registration. the u.n. refugee is no longer able to provide additional assistance who were registered a year or two years ago. some remain refugees and are not
entitled to receive assistance. the day to day living, meeting the daily needs, basic necessities are the biggest concern of these talks. >> let's go back now to switzerland to montro where the swiss president has been addressing the geneva ii conference. now the u.n. chief ban ki-moon is speaking. let's listen in. >> thank you for your kind hospitality and generous contributions. your royal highnesses, ladies and gentlemen. i would like to make a statement on my own before opening the floor. after three painful years of conflict and suffering in syria. today is a day of fragile but real hope.
for the first time the syrian government and the syrian opposition, countries of the region and wider international community seek a political solution to the death, destruction and displace: that is the reality of lie in syria today. all syrians and all in the region affected by this crisis are looking to you gathered here to end the unspeakable human suffering to save syria's weak social motorcycle aic and meaningful political process. a vision first put forward a year and a half ago in the geneva community and endorsed by the united nations security council. you, the delegates from the syrian government and potential are here for this purpose.
you have an emore or less does note and responsibility to render historic service to the syrian people. it is the most profound tragedies of peaceful protest in syria, calling for change turned into a civil war. if the government leaders have listened more attendantively and to the concerns expressed by the people, the conference may not have been necessary. some towns and villages have been ruined by aerial bombardment. schools, hospitals, markets, homes and places of worship have been destroyed. car bombs, suicide, more tar attacks have terrified the
population in many parts of the country. lawlessness and chaos attract criminals and fighters from all over the country. radical groups are imposing their own destructive and dangerous vision. the numbers are appalling. where over 100,000 people killed, large numbers of people missing or detained. attacks on civilians continue. and all sides have shown a total disregard of their responsibilities under the humanitarian board. more than 6.5 million people are eternally displaced. more than 9.3 million people in syria need humanitarian and 2.5 million living in areas
where humanitarian access is seriously constrained and many not reached at all. depp revation has become part of political and military strategies. once we come to refugees of all backgrounds, the war has forced more than 2.43 million people, half children to fully to neighbouring countries and beyond. despite strains, syria's neighbours have shown generous hospitality. i'm grateful for the commitments made at the humanitarian conference last week. i thank his highness for his vision and humanitarian support. humanitarian needs are still unlikely to be met, even less so if the country conditions. i thank the international
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